Americans are nervous about the economy, the sequester, hints of a coming re-recession, and the possibility that the Aztecs had it wrong by a year or two. But in spite of everything, people still aspire to live the good life and the products they represent. No surprise, then, that a new study from Harris Poll EquiTrend shows that a lot of luxury brands -- especially autos -- have gained equity among consumers.
The firm, which polled about 39,000 consumers and looked at about 1,500 brands across 155 categories, found that high-end brands have fared better in the study than they have in years.
The 25th annual study gave Mercedes-Benz the top spot among luxury automotive marques for the third year in a row. BMW, Lexus, Acura, Infiniti, Porsche and Audi followed. Acura, Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Land Rover achieved their highest scores ever. In the mid-market area, Toyota -- among full-line vehicles -- got the best equity numbers, followed by Honda, Ford, Chevy and Nissan. For in-car audio -- which, along with telematics, is an important component of consideration -- Bose and Harmon/Kardon are on top.
In motorcycles, Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson took the top spot with its highest score in the study’s history. In sports, the NFL took the top spot in brand equity, while UnderArmour had the best brand equity of any sporting apparel maker. Merrell was the top-ranking running shoe brand, with New Balance second and Nike third.
Aron Galonsky, SVP of brand and communications consulting at Harris Interactive, concedes it’s a little hard to correlate equity to consideration (no big surprise there). But he adds that the study’s queries on familiarity, quality and what the consumers plan to do with regard to the brand deals with whether they even know who the brand is; how he or she feels about it; and whether they consider purchase. The study involves each respondent getting about 40 brands to consider.
He says that in this year's study, brand consideration is higher than it has been since 2005, "Keeping in mind some brands may have dropped out of the survey over the years," he says. In Autos, both brand equity and brand consideration for full line and luxury auto brands are at historical highs.
Saks Department Stores and MAC Cosmetics are on top of their categories, and saw their scores rise almost 10 points. And while Starwood Hotels & Resorts topped the luxury hotel chain category, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts hit its highest score yet in that category, rising more than 13 points from its lowest score back in 2008.